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Two dead. Several injured. Hundreds left homeless. Many more to lose their homes. Stand in Solidarity with the residents of Aya Nagar!

Destitutes On Their Own Land: A Preliminary Report on Demolitions in Aya Nagar, Delhi on 11 September

The residents of Aya Nagar, Arjangarh, Delhi were once more made destitute at the whim of the administration– “mai-baap”– when the police and the CRPF came and demolished over 250 homes in the area all of a sudden without having given the residents any notice. The people weren’t even allowed to remove their basic belongings before the houses were razed to the ground. The brutality has left two dead and several others injured. An old woman came in the way of a crumbling wall and succumbed to the serious injuries sustained. A pregnant woman suffered serious shock and died as a consequence. Several others have suffered grievous hurt in the course of the demolition, and the police repression attending the bulldozers. Others are still in shock, having seen all their life’s hard work reduced to dust.

When the residents demanded to see the court order or notice for the demolition, the police flatly refused to show any legal authority to back the action. “The area has developed over more than a decade continuously in the eye of the administration, with water supply, electricity bills, voter ids and aadhar cards issued on these addresses. MLA candidates have regularly been coming to the area asking for the people’s votes. However, it is only now that it has struck them that the colony is illegal” says Munni, a resident of the area for nearly a decade, now busy trying to gather her few belongings from the debris.

The demolitions done on Thursday are however neither the first nor the last of their tryst with the government’s bulldozers. These same houses had been demolished in exactly the same way in June 2010. However, the police having once done their bidding never returned until yesterday. People had since rebuilt their houses brick by brick and had eventually started feeling settled and secure in their homes given that the government showed no further signs of claiming the land.

Most of the lands now being cleared have been “sold” to the residents by property dealers under a variety of identities. The entire area has several such property dealers who work closely with the lower rungs of the local administration and mediate the people’s access to various public services like provision of water etc. In this grey zone between legal rights and fraud lies the only access to housing that a significant section of the cities working population can afford. The local land mafia and its relation with the administration and the police sustain this twilight existence and use it to extract a regular income from the people, while the local politicians keep it going to maintain a support base always in need of their patronage and favor and often proving to be an important vote bank.

There is information that the demolitions will continue till 23rd September and the demolition of other rows will also follow. In fact the demolitions are in keeping with a Delhi High Court judgement directing the MCD to demolish unauthorised construction in various areas of south Delhi, including Mehrauli, Neb Sarai, Chattarpur etc. However, as is to be expected, unauthorised farm houses and other construction belonging to thse who can pay their way through the adminstration and judicial orders remain untouched and it is the poor who are first to come in the line of fire. The demolitions in a section of Aya Nagar has alerted residents of neighbouring blocks who have come out in strong support of those who have already lost their hearths. Tonight shall be the second night when people camp in the open or huddle in with their neighbors to spend the night.

They are in no mood to give up without a fight. A demonstration and road block at the Arjangarh metro station today in the morning saw the police brutally latthicharge the demonstrators. Tomorrow, 13 September 2014, the people are resolute about making a fresh attempt to get their voices heard, their rights recognized. The solidarity they receive from various quarters of society in such circumstance shall be of utmost importance.

We condemn the move of the DDA and demand immediate restoration of the destroyed houses, and temporary shelter, drinking water, healthcare and sanitation in the interim!
We also demand punishement for guilty officials who ordered demolition of houses without any notice or proper mechanism!

We appeal to all pro-people forces and individuals to come together in protest and stand in solidarity with the people in Aya Nagar.

-KNS (Krantikari Naujawan Sabha)

Krantikari Naujawan Sabha’s photo.
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha’s photo.
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha’s photo.
Krantikari Naujawan Sabha’s photo.
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